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Munshi Bhavanisahay was beside himself with rage when he discovered the sorry state of his garden. More than the destruction of his garden, it was the cruel mischief of the boys that grieved him. If some bull had caused the damage, Munshiji would only have wrung his hands in despair, but he could not tolerate the cruelty of the boys.
The instant the boys took their seats in the classroom, Munshiji demanded to know, "Who has destroyed the garden?"
There was pin-drop silence in the room. The guilty boys turned pale with fear. All the 25 boys in the middle grade had come to know about the incident, but not one of them dared to open his mouth. All of them sat quietly with their heads bowed.
Munshiji's anger increased.
"I am sure one of you has caused this destruction," he thundered. "Someone who knows about it had better tell the truth, or I will start caning all of you. Then, no one should complain that the innocents were punished for nothing."
Still, no one spoke. There was the same pin-drop silence in the classroom.
Munshi: "Deviprasad, do you know?"
Deviprasad: "No sir, I know nothing."
"Shivdas, do you know?"
"No sir, I don't know."
"Bajbahadur, you never tell a lie. Do you know?"
Bajbahadur stood up. His face showed courage, and his eyes shone with resolution.
"Yes sir, I know," he said.
Munshiji said, "Bravo."
The guilty boys looked at Bajbahadur angrily. "Well, well!" they exclaimed in their minds.
Bhavanisahay had lots of patience; he seldom punished the boys. But when it meant punishing the boys for such a grave misdeed, he did not show remorse.
Calling for his cane, he applied ten strokes to each of the five guilty boys and made them stand on the benches for the whole day. He made black marks against their names in the students' conduct register.
As it is, the disorderly boys were jealous of Bajbahadur. Now, after his honest divulgence, they craved Bajbahadur's blood.
Pain has the power to arouse sympathy. The punishment inflicted on the five guilty boys caused the other boys in the class to sympathize and grow friendly with them. They conspired to take such revenge on Bajbahadur that he would never dare to show his face in the school again. The general sentiment was that Bajbahadur was a traitor. Today, he will have to pay for his honesty! Poor Bajbahadur was unaware of what was conspiring. The rebels had taken all precautions to keep him in the dark.
Bajbahadur was walking home after school. Jagat Singh, Jairam, and their friends were waiting near a guava orchard along the way. Bajbahadur felt alarmed; he realized they were waiting for him. But there was no way for him to escape the situation. He continued to walk, though hesitatingly.
Jagat Singh called out, "Come, sir! You made us wait for a long time. Come and receive a reward for your honesty."
Bajbahadur: "Move aside; let me go."
Jairam: "Certainly, but first get a taste of your honesty."
Bajbahadur: "I had told you, I will tell the truth if asked."
Jairam: "We had also told you, we will reward you for this work."
Jairam moved towards Bajbahadur with clenched fists. Jagat Singh lunged forward to grab Bajbahadur by his hands. Shivram, Jairam's younger brother, rushed towards the victim with a thick twig from a guava tree. The rest of the boys stood surrounding the combatants and watched the fun; they belonged to the "reserve force", which would jump into the fray if required. Bajbahadur was a frail boy; three tough boys were enough to rough him up. Everyone felt sure that the three would get the better of Bajbahadur within a matter of minutes.
When his enemies started using their "weapons" against him, Bajbahadur looked from the corner of his eyes to find an advantage. He pounced upon Shivram and snatched away the twig from him. He moved back a few steps, raised the twig threateningly, and said, "Who are you to reward or punish me for my honesty?"
Bajbahadur was frail, but he was agile and alert. His conviction in honesty had strengthened his resolve: My truthfulness might lead me to harm, but I will not flee.
Bajbahadur kept up the attack on his enemies for several minutes and evaded their blows with skill. But how long can a guava tree twig last? Soon, the twig snapped and was of no use to him anymore. As long as the twig was in his hand, it was like a sword; no one dared come near him. But, once unarmed, he could not stave off the blows from the enemy. The enemy, stronger in number, soon overpowered him. Bajbahadur received a severe punch to his ribs from Jairam. Bajbahadur felt breathless; his eyes turned stony; he collapsed on the ground, senseless.
Bajbahadur regained consciousness after about ten minutes. Although he had received a nasty blow, it had caused only a superficial injury. But, yet, it had sapped all his strength; he could not even stand up. Somehow, he got up and started limping homewards.
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu